Anyone Photograph the Rice Terraces in the Philippines?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by james mitchell (dc), Oct 7, 2006.

  1. I'll be making the trek to the rice terraces at the end of the month. Has
    anyone shot there? And, if so, could you recommend the minimal Leica set-up
    to carry? As I'm not sure how close I will get, I'd like to know especially
    if I can avoid the telephoto lenses. I plan to take an M6TTL and an Epson RD-
    1s. I don't want to carry too many lenses, for obvious reasons (i.e., weight,
    getting lost--although we'll be trying to hire a guide--and the risk of
    theft). Any advice is appreciated.
  2. A good guide won\'t let you get too close because you can never predict what wild rice will do.
  3. James, Its been 30 + years since I was stationed at Clark AFB, and while I was there I took 3 trips to the Ifugao and Kalinga Provence's where the Banaue rice terraces are. I used all my lenses that I had at the time, a 35mm wide, 50 normal, and a 105 , all nikkors on a Nikon F. On one of the trips I did have access to a 300mm and that worked very well on shooting across the valley at the terraces on the other side, which gave a nice compressed look to the photos. I would take off my shoes and socks and walk into the paddies with workers and this worked great for the wide angle shots.It can be foggy there in the winter ,but I think you will be ok this month.You should consider going to one of the igarote villages in the area. The people are wonderful and we stayed in several on our trips.Having someone who speaks the language will help , but you can find people who speak english everywhere in the phillapines.The area around Sagada is also very interesting. Some of the villages I stayed in are now underwater because of a giant dam that was built.

    Many of the photos in my single gallery are from the mountains in the PI, here is one of the rice terraces
  4. Since you'lle be shooting towards the valleys/ terraces you want to bring a wide angle but not too wide. Go to wide from too far and your pictures will become empty. I'd suggest a 28 or 35 mm for the wide shots and a 90/ 135 to pick up detail from a distance. If I had to make a choice I'd dettle for a classic 35/90 setup. Make sure to bring a film that handles the greens well.
  5. Michael, I'll be going with my Filipina fiancee, who speaks three dialects. The longest rangefinder lens I have is a Canon 135/3.5. I'm thinking of the 35 'cron, 50 'cron, and the Canon 135. I have a Zeiss 28, which might be worth taking as well.

    Leon, for the greens, I usually prefer Fuji negative and transparency film. For shooting the locals--portrait, etc.--I was thinking of Portra 160 and 400 NC. I think I'd rather desaturate for B&W than shoot actual B&W, for this area anyway. Any other film suggestions?
  6. Michael, gorgeous picture! Thank you for sharing that.
  7. Thanks for sharing, Superb.
  8. James, depending on the season, you'll easily get away with the lower iso-speeds in that part of the world. I think Portra 160 is an excellent choice as it delivers rich but natural colors and can be combined also when doing portrets or people shots. Apart from that I'd take Reala. For slides I think any of the Sensia's will do fine. Why not shoot from a tripod a try good old Kodachrome?
  9. Whatever you do, don't eat the poison arrows.
  10. "I don't want to carry too many lenses, for obvious reasons...the risk of theft"

    You don't really have to worry about theft in Northern Luzon, the New People's Army have
    killed all the thieves. Say what you like about Maoists, but they have a zero tolerance
    policy on theft. For a really strange experience, after ticking off the rice terraces (which are
    genuinely beautiful), consider heading north to Ilocos Norte where you can see the waxy
    corpse of Ferdinand Marcos in a mausoleum lovingly designed by Imelda. Then come back
    via Baguio and visit the Philippine Military Academy (bizarrely, it's open to tourists), if
    you're lucky you'll get to sit in on a planning meeting for the next coup attempt against
    Arroyo - they might even invite you to join them when they storm the palace.
  11. Boris, would you know when would be the best time of the year to get those shots of the terraces in all their splendour? Pre-harvest season would be ideal.
  12. The area looks pretty amazing all year round, but if you want to see the intense green
    color I'd guess May to August would be the best time - bearing in mind it can be pretty
    wet from July onwards. Also, don't make the mistake of thinking that everyhere in The
    Philippines is hot - after dark until well into the morning it can be surprizingly cold in The
  13. That is quite a photo, Michael G.

    James -- enjoy the adventure.
  14. Boris, I'm not so worried about theft near the terraces, but along the way. And as for the private armies, that's one reason I am probably passing up on the invitation from the governor of Isabela province to join her for dinner at the governor's mansion. My extended Filipino family--both in the States and at "home"--have strongly advised me (as an off-duty representative of the State Dept.) not to get too close to the "dragon slayer" in Isabela--my mother-in-law's home province.
  15. Forgot to mention, Boris, that Baguio is where we got engaged, so that cute little town has great significance for us. We'll be there for a week prior to the trek to the terraces.
  16. Don't forget your filters, warm, haze, polarizer. Be ready for a lot of hiking, Good comfortable
    shoes, gore tex lined if possible. Drink only soft drinks mineral water, or better yet coconut
    water, readily available. People are nice, kind and helpful. Get a guide, haggle for the rate.
    Get ready to wake up very early or sleep right there on the site. Carry only two zoom lens
    18-35, and 28-200. Small tripod. Lots of film. Enjoy!

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